Rugby: Recycled Japan coach Eddie Jones targets top-four world ranking, new style for 'Brave Blossoms'

New Japan rugby coach Eddie Jones aims to make his side one of the best four teams in the world and unearth global sporting talent like Japanese star baseball player Shohei Ohtani.

Jones takes over Japan for a second term, after a calamitous, short-lived stint with Australia and a seven-year run with England that took them to a World Cup final in 2019, but also ended in acrimony, after a poor run.

His first game back in charge of the 'Brave Blossoms' - currently ranked 12th - is against his old side, fifth-ranked England on June 22 at Tokyo.

Eddie Jones is introduced as new Japan coach.
Eddie Jones is introduced as new Japan coach. Photo credit: Getty Images

"There's no reason why we can't jump into the top four," said Jones at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. "We need to create a new style of play that is adventurous, that suits Japanese instincts, that is attacking."

Japan has never ranked higher than seventh, which they achieved in 2019, after they defeated both Scotland and Ireland to top their pool, and reach the quarter-finals at a home World Cup.  

"We need to create this fast playing style with these tough players that can then break the plateau we're at at the moment and move into the top four in the world," said Jones. 

"I remember 8-9 years ago talking about Japan being in the top eight and everyone thought we were absolutely crazy, so there's no reason we can't jump into the top four.

"Everything comes at a cost, so over the next period of time, we need to develop a new style of play, which is difficult to do at the top level, when you're playing against England and you're playing against Italy, but we need to create a new style of play that is adventurous."

Jones has also spoken about attracting talented players to the team.

"It's about how we can make young players be really ambitious in wanting to be the best player they can and create the next rugby Ohtani," he added, referring to the dual-threat Major League Baseball player, who is a national hero in Japan.

Jones has defended his tenure at Australia, which resulted in just two wins in nine matches and the nation's earliest-ever departure from a World Cup in 2023, saying he left the team "in a better place".

"Don't have any regrets," he said. "I tried to do my best in a short period of time.

"What I think I've left Australia is a young squad that's capable of doing well. Sometimes you've got to leave things in a better place and maybe you take responsibility for the failure, which is okay."